Monday, November 25, 2013

Getting closer.

The fog is now very thick and I back the car slowly away from the cliff edge. I can’t see anything behind.
  “I can’t see anything behind,” says Dobri.  The rear of the Tatra hits a rock.  I drive slowly forward, turn, and eventually find the way out, peering through the windscreen.
  “Is Corbusier prize-winner,” says Slama.
  “Hotel Jested.”  This guy Slama is too much, Kakonin is too much and the vodka was also too much, but at least we have the painting.   I open the window to get some fresh fog.  When we finally get back to Prague, we drop Slama off at the Casino Red Dog and pull up outside the Three Violins Cafe.

The Three Violins Cafe is a single large room with a vaulted ceiling.  A notice in an elaborate gilt frame hangs on the wall and reads:
  'Already in the 16th.Century this famous building belonged
to the Court Painter of Emperor Rudolf II, and violins were made here.  
It became later the most important violence workshop in Prague.'

Dobri and I sit at a long table and order coffee and buns and review the situation.  The painting is placed carefully on the table between us.  I ask him how he will go about authenticating it.
 "There've been a lot of ways of identifying painters' work - there was even a school which said look at the ear.  Many artists paint the ear the same way no matter what the subject's ear actually looked like.  Or the shape of the hand.  Then there's simple connoisseurship.  You know, the biggest expert on the artist looks at the picture and then gives his opinion. But for me, digital imaging is the best by far.  A multi-spectrum camera can show you the layers of pigment, the weave of the canvas, and the way the brush strokes are applied. These can then be compared with the same images from a fully authenticated painting.  It's foolproof.  So that's what I'll be doing when we get it back to London.  After I've cleaned it. Very gently."
 "Dobri," I say.  "Would you mind taking the picture back yourself? I have something I want to do here and I need to stay on a few days."

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